Alistair Dabbs

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing.
Pennies in a jar. Photo via Shutterstock

You want SaaS? Don't bother, darling, your kind can't afford it

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "That member is the wrong way around," confides the gym receptionist in hushed tones, nodding towards a middle-aged fellow ambling into the cardio room. I stare after him, trying to guess how his member might be incorrectly attached. Dressed unfashionably and, I suspect, quite accidentally in a sleeveless side-boob vest, split …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Nov 2016
An upset woman with an empty wallet

Customer data security is our highest priori- ha ha ha whatever, suckers

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I would like it to be known that mine is bigger than yours. And yours is bigger than everyone else's. Only losers waste their time with small. We do big. The IT industry is notably keen on letting us know that everything they do is big, especially when it comes to data security breaches. Cyber-attacks on individuals are never …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Nov 2016
Cat peeks outside cardboard box. Photo by shuttertsock

A cardboard desk? I won’t stand for it (actually I will)

Something for the Weekend, Sir? This week, I have been worried about getting it to stand up. The more I worry, the greater the difficulty in ensuring a sturdy erection that doesn’t immediately flop over. I hope you understand that this has never happened to me before. Perhaps I could try again in a few minutes? Ah, there we are. Nice and stiff and thick …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Nov 2016

Any questions? No, not you again at the back, please God no

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Toy bears and model aeroplanes. Mini tubs of Pringles. Super-expensive watches that look like rusty bicycle parts adorned with a mashed insects. [sings] These are a few of my faaaavourite thiiiiings. Yes indeed, every modern luxury that Western capitalism can conjure are to be found on board this no-frills flight across the …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Nov 2016
monty_python_french_knights_648

Getting your tongue around foreign tech-talk is easier than you think

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I live in a bag-arse. Bag-arses are great places to live in. School-run monster trucks avoid them. Transient pedestrian litter-louts don’t even know they exist. Noisy buses and smelly lorries refuse to come anywhere near a bag-arse. The street sign even has “Bag-arse” proudly displayed under the name in bold red letters. Of …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Oct 2016
Statler and Waldorf - copyright - The Walt Disney company - the muppets studio

What will happen when I'm too old to push? (buttons, that is)

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I'd like you to consider my underwear. As we move inexorably towards another Christmas – for American readers, I understand you prefer the euphemism "Holiday Season" for its more generous syllable-count – close relatives have begun asking what gifts I might like to receive on the big day. What I want, of course, is toys. …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Oct 2016

Apple’s macOS Sierra update really puts the fan into 'fanboi'

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Ooh, I’m so hot! And I’m getting even hotter for you, big boy!” This is totally unexpected. I don’t know what to say. “Do nothing, baby. Just listen to the rush!” I wondered what the noise was. I thought I was going deaf. “Not at all! Now just sit back and contemplate what’s going on in your lap.” As if I could …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Oct 2016

Invasion of the virus-addled lightbulbs (and other banana stories)

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Yikes, all I have to do is go away for a couple of weeks and all hell breaks loose. But at least it’s the right kind of hell: that is, the veritable technological hell that I’ve been predicting in these columns for years. First off as I sit back in my late-vacation sun lounger to read the news on my tablet is that the Krebs on …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Oct 2016
Pulling the plug

Pull the plug! PowerPoint may kill my conference audience

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The man on stage is baffled. It was his big moment, a chance to show off his company’s proficiency and expertise, but now he’s being made to look useless. Two huge screens on either side of the stage are supposed to be displaying his presentation. They remain resolutely blank. A 200-strong audience of paying conference …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 Sep 2016
Paul Winchell and dummy

You call it 'hacking.' I call it 'investigation'

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Here's a photo of what I had for lunch! Amazing!!! No it isn't amazing. It's your lunch. You gotta see the new 4k TV I bought today! Thanks for giving me a fascinating, if cursive, inventory of your consumer durables. Took Jonesy out for his walk and he chased a rabbit. Nice to have your pet's name. Could be useful. 28 …
Alistair Dabbs, 16 Sep 2016
dog noses around in fridge. photo by Shutterstock

Self-stocking internet fridge faces a delivery come down

Something for the Weekend, Sir? In the future, I will keep a vibrator in my shoes. This will allow me to walk down the street without having to hold it in my hands or stick it into my ear. My satnav smartphone, that is. With the help of Hi-Tec’s Navigator, vibrating pods in my footwear will guide me left and right along my walking route without recourse to …
Alistair Dabbs, 09 Sep 2016

Paint your wagon (with electric circuits) but leave my crotch alone

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The contents of my pants are hot. Given recent experience, I would venture to say they’re even too hot to handle. Getting too close to those hidden quarters of the scorching Dabbs family jewels could cause one to swoon in a dead faint. I know this because my smartphone told me. Well, it didn’t actually tell me. And no, I don …
Alistair Dabbs, 02 Sep 2016
scanners

My headset is reading my mind and talking behind my back

Something for the Weekend, Sir? It only takes a minute to capture a 3D model of my orifices. They tell me it’s the only way I can be sure of a tight fit. Perhaps I could order a hologram of my 3D orifices that I can hang on my living room wall. It would make a nice conversation piece for visitors to admire. "Isn’t it creepy how my orifices seem to follow …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Aug 2016
Still from Olivia Newton John's Let get Physical vid. Copyright 1981 Geffen Records

The curious case of a wearables cynic and his enduring fat bastardry

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I owe everything to a quick one off the wrist. This was not always the case. Previously, my attempts at achieving a rhythm would frequently slip, causing it to get out of hand. But now with a firm grip on the matter and lots of practice, I’ve really begun to shake things up, good and proper. I feel sure plenty of readers are …
Alistair Dabbs, 12 Aug 2016

Render crashing PCs back to their component silicon: They deserve it

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My computer crashed every five minutes this morning. Please can you check what's wrong with it when you get home? This text message does not surprise me in the least. Mrs Dabbsy's computer never goes wrong when I'm nearby. It waits until I'm out of the house. As soon as it knows I'm safely on a train heading off somewhere, it …
Alistair Dabbs, 05 Aug 2016

The return of (drone) robot wars: Beware of low-flying freezers

Something for the Weekend, Sir? There was a time when I used to spend my free hours looking for a man. Oh yes, many a day I’d hang about aimlessly for hours, just waiting for the right man to turn up. Sometimes I’d look for a man in uniform, other times he’d in civvies, but all I wanted was the kind of man who would – well, how can I put this? – “deliver the …
Alistair Dabbs, 29 Jul 2016

She wants it. She needs it. Shall I give it to her or keep doing it by myself?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Give it to me pleeeese!” she begs, staring longingly into my eyes. “I’m desperate and will do anything.” It’s 5:30am and we are the only people in the office. I stutter that I’m not at liberty to satisfy her demands right there and then. It’s too early for me. Could she wait a while? She takes a step towards me and begins …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Jul 2016
shutterstock_238128856_phone_theft

Gaming apps, mugging and bad case of bruised Pokéballs

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Back in the 1970s, cockney actor Mike Reid’s catchphrase on children’s TV was “Runaround – GO!!!” For the benefit of American readers... oh look, it’s too difficult to explain. However I would love to hear him shout “Pokémon – GO!!!” if only to alleviate the relentless publicity over what counts as children’s entertainment …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Jul 2016

You can’t sit there, my IoT desk tells me

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I don’t know what to do with my arse. Should I be swivelling on it? Should I do it leaning forward with pressure applied to the small of my back? Or would I be better advised to do the business standing up? For various reasons, I am in the market for a standing desk: that is, a desk that you can work at while standing upright …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Jul 2016
Twilight Zone, 'Time Enough At Last'

A trip to the Twilight Zone with a support guy called Iron Maiden

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Thank you for submitting a support request. You can put your clothes back on now. In another dimension, logging a call could involve a full invasive strip search. Or perhaps there’d be a sado-dimensional version of Zendesk in which, having determined that a user is raising frivolous issues, sends attitude-corrective electric …
Alistair Dabbs, 01 Jul 2016
Boy with a backpack hides his eyes and cries. Pic by Shutterstock

I want to learn about gamification but all I see is same-ification

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “You don’t know you’re born,” they would say to me during my first holiday job. “You don’t know you’re a sad, blubber-arsed freeloader coasting towards retirement,” I’d reply… in my head, of course. Out loud, I would complain that they were being unfair, and I would be slapped down with that most frustrating of clichés “Life’ …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Jun 2016
Facepalm by https://www.flickr.com/photos/the-magic-tuba-pixie/ cc 2.0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Should we teach our kids how to program humanity out of existence?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Kids tend to spend far too much of their childhood in an unproductive way," it says here. I quite agree. It was the same when I was a child. All that counting numbers and spelling words they made me do over the years was a massive drain on my television-watching time. "Research shows that children have an increasing problem …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Jun 2016

Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I’d like to try these in a size nine-and-a-half or size 10, please. “A size nine... and-a-half?” the shop assistant asks incredulously. Yes. Or a 10. “Which size do you want – the nine-and-a-half or the 10?” I’d like the size that fits my feet. “So... are your feet size nine-and-a-half or size 10?” Ah now, I can’t say for …
Alistair Dabbs, 03 Jun 2016
Screenshot from the movie Airplane!

In-flight movies via BYOD? Just what I always wan... argh no we’re all going to die!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? It’s sunny outside, which can mean only one thing: I am about to go on holiday to a place where it will be pissing down with rain and sleet for the next fortnight. My globetrotting exploits have been limited this year, so I’m looking forward to enjoying my first experience of in-flight entertainment via Wi-Fi to my own device …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 May 2016
Tintin and Captain Haddock. Pic by Thibaut Démare, licensed under cc 2.0

Being an IT trainer is like performing the bullet-catching trick

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I’m on stage with a gun pointing at my heart. There is the sound of nervous shuffling as those sitting in the stalls squirm in their seats. Then silence: the audience quickly falls still and holds it breath. The man armed with the musket is raising the muzzle to take better aim before slowly squeezing the trigger… He pauses. “ …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 May 2016